Key Aspects of an Online AEC Training & Continuing Education Program

Key Aspects of an Online AEC Training & Continuing Education Program

At Vector Solutions, we offer a variety of training and continuing education products and services for the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industries. Many times, organizations come to us wondering how we can help them implement online training to assist in the career development of their employees, or how we can help licensed and certified employees (such as engineers) with continuing education. 

Lower in this article, we’ve provided a 48-page guide to online training in the architecture, engineering & construction industries to help you create your online training search team, select the right training & continuing education products for your company’s learning needs, and implement the online learning solutions at your organization. We invite you to download the guide now or when you’re done reading this article.

In this article, we’ll highlight some of the key information from the Online AEC Training Guide that should give you a good starting point for learning more. 

As always, feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have and to let us know if you’d like to partner with us on your organization’s AEC training programs. And just as an FYI, you might also appreciate our Selecting & Using Online AEC Training recorded, on-demand webinar and/or our State of AEC Training in 2021 Guide.

Two Key Components of Online AEC Training Solutions 

We’ll start our discussion of online training for the AEC industry (and any industry, really) with two basics: elearning courses and learning management systems (LMS). There’s more to online training than just this, and we’ll introduce you to that as well. And the AEC industry has a strong professional certification and licensing aspect, so we’ll get into that, too.

But for now, let’s hit those two basics, fundamental parts of any online AEC training effort.

To put it simply, elearning courses are the standard type of online training activity used at any workplace. They typically include a list of learning objectives, training content, practice exercises/questions, and a test or assessment at the end of the elearning course. 

And a learning management system, often abbreviated as LMS, is a software application that’s used to administer your training program. That means your entire training program, not just the online part (because you can use an LMS to administer offline training, such as classroom instruction, too) and not just the training part (because you can also use the LMS to administer all of that continuing education for licensing and professional certifications as well). 

eLearning Courses and Additional Training Activities for AEC Training 

Although elearning courses are a major part of online training for any industry, they’re certainly not the only form of training (either online or offline) and they’re not the only kind of training activity an LMS can help manage for your organization.

In addition to elearning courses, you can use any number of different training delivery methods or media, including:

  • Videos
  • Live online learning (virtual instructor-led training
  • Traditional classroom-style instructor-led training 
  • PowerPoint Presentations 
  • PDFs
  • Images
  • Infographics 
  • OJT/mentoring/job following/job shadowing
  • Web pages 
  • Company wikis 
  • Threaded discussion boards
  • Informal lunch and learns 
  • User-generated content
  • Social media channels
  • Your company’s Slack and similar communication tools 
  • And more

The general rule of thumb is to use a blended learning solution that incorporates more than one of these training delivery methods, selecting the elements within your learning blend based on which will create the most impactful learning benefits (see our Blended Learning Solutions Guide for more on this). Most learning management systems will allow you to work with a variety of training activity types like those listed above. 

LMS and “Administering” Job Training 

Next, you may be wondering what we meant when we said a learning management system can help you manage and administer your training program (and not just the online components). 

There are many hundreds of learning management systems on the market, and no two are exactly alike, and many are specifically designed for the training needs of specific associations or organizations (just as the Vector LMS is designed for the AEC industry). As a result, it’s impossible to give a list of features all of them can perform.

However, most any LMS should allow your organization to do things like:

  • Create user records for each employee
  • Assign training to employees
  • Notify employees of training assignments (and their supervisors, if desired)
  • Notify employees of upcoming due dates and training expirations 
  • Allow employees to complete training online when possible
  • Give employees information about “offline” training, including time/date/etc. 
  • Grant credit to employees for completing training (automatically and/or manually) 
  • Import training materials (PPTs, PDFs, videos, elearning courses, webpages, etc) 
  • Create training materials (online quizzes, checklists, surveys, etc.) 
  • Run reports on training completion 
  • Integrate with other workplace software systems, such as HRIS, ERP, CRM, etc 
  • Allow employees to create user-generated content 
  • Facilitate social learning (discussion boards, wikis, social media channels, etc.)

In olden days, a learning management system would be installed on your organization’s network server. These days, it’s much more common to use a cloud-based LMS, as this makes installation, access, and updates much easier and simpler. 

In Addition to Job Training: Continuing Education for AEC Licensing & Certifications 

For many companies, thoughts about organizational L&D efforts focus around job training in the traditional sense--training assigned by the organization and/or training that the organization makes available to employees to complete on an optional basis. 

However, the AEC industry includes many people who need to gain or keep current professional licenses and certifications (think engineers, plumbers, electricians, project managers, etc.). 

So in addition to the kind of job training many organizations deliver, important as it is--HR, operations, compliance, skill-building, and more), it helps to partner with an AEC training provider with courses and LMS functionality to help keep those licenses and certifications up to date by providing and helping to keep track of AEC continuing education requirements. 

Conclusion: Training and Continuing Education Are Essential in the AEC Industry 

We hope you found some value in this introduction to online training and continuing education for the AEC industries and invite you to keep watching for additional articles on both (1) online training/continuing education and (2) training basics that can be applied in the AEC industries in the future.

Let us know if you have any questions and good luck with the knowledge transfer, skill building, licensing, certification, continuing education, lifelong learning, and more. 

Jeff Dalto, Senior Learning & Performance Improvement Manager
Jeff is a learning designer and performance improvement specialist with more than 20 years in learning and development, 15+ of which have been spent working in manufacturing, industrial, and architecture, engineering & construction training. Jeff has worked side-by-side with more than 50 companies as they implemented online training. Jeff is an advocate for using evidence-based training practices and is currently completing a Masters degree in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning from Boise State University. He writes the Vector Solutions | Convergence Training blog and invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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